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Compensation: Terrorism

Volume 692: debated on Wednesday 13 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they provide compensation or assistance to United Kingdom residents who have been injured as a result of terrorist attacks overseas; and whether this is comparable with the practice of other European countries, the United States and Canada. [HL4155]

Financial assistance for UK residents affected by terrorism overseas is available through the British Red Cross Relief Fund for UK Victims of Terrorism Abroad. The fund was launched on 17 May, following a £1 million donation from the Government. The British Red Cross makes immediate, small payments in two phases to those seriously injured or bereaved, to meet the immediate costs which may arise.

Similarly the US Government directly reimburse victims of international terrorism for actual out-of-pocket expenses associated with their victimhood, such as funeral or medical costs, through their international terrorism victim expense reimbursement programme. The Canadian Department of Justice offers limited financial assistance to victims of serious violent crime abroad for unanticipated and exceptional expenses resulting from their victimhood. Victims of terrorism may also be eligible for this assistance. We are not aware of any compensation scheme in the US or Canada for victims of terrorism overseas, although victims are of course able to pursue remedies through the civil courts, as did the families of the victims of Pan Am 103 (Lockerbie).

There is currently no compensation scheme for UK victims of terrorism overseas. However, the European Council Directive 2004/80/EC of 29 April 2004 entitles EU nationals who are victims of “violent intentional crime” within the EU to apply for compensation from the member state on whose territory the crime was committed. The levels of compensation are determined by the member states individually and vary considerably.